There are people crying in the streets of Manchester and jaws are still being scraped off the floor worldwide -it can only mean one thing: the red-nosed overachiever has finally retired.
Ferguson leaves the game as contender for best manager ever. His record is an eye watering P:1604 W:965 D:360 L:279, with 38 trophies and some immense teams along the way.
One of the Scot’s greatest qualities was his nous in the transfer market, from Viv Anderson to Wilfried Zaha his 104 signing have, with 90% consistency, been quality players – or more frequently decent players that Ferguson has shaped into quality players.
But it wasn’t all bought in talent. In 1992, along with Brian Kidd and Eric Harrison, Sir Alex cultivated a team of homegrown players so good that they recently got inducted into the FA’s hall of fame. The backbone of that team won the treble; the greatest achievement in domestic football.
Clearly he was a phenomenal manager of men, not to mention a great manager of the club he had running like clockwork. But there was something more there.
That unquantifiable X-factor that just cannot be bought or taught. He was a competitive man but was a winner too. A winner with such desire, such single-minded focus that every player found it unavoidable not to give their best for him. His team (which he rebuilt four times) tried harder than the opposition, because he tried harder.
And like all great managers, he left us with some great quotes:
After hitting Beckham in the head with a boot: It was a freakish incident. If I tried it 100 or a million times it couldn’t happen again. If I could I would have carried on playing!
On Filippo Inzaghi: That lad must have been born offside.
Wait, what?:If we can play like that every week, we’ll get some level of consistency.
On seeing a youthful Ryan Giggs: I remember the first time I saw him. He was 13 and just floated over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind.
On Madrid signing Ronaldo: Do you think I would get into a contract with that mob? Jesus Christ, no chance. I wouldn’t sell them a virus.
On Mourinho: He was certainly full of it, calling me ‘Boss’ and ‘Big Man’ when we had our post-match drink after the first leg. But it would help if his greetings were accompanied by a decent glass of wine. What he gave me was paint-stripper.
Football philosophy: I’ve never played for a draw in my life.
For me, he is the best manager there has ever been, and his record will probably never be beaten. I leave his career with this final eulogy:
The date list of his trophy wins is so long it looks like the code to programme a nuclear warhead. He was so competitive, he’d even shake hands better than other people. He’s got more silverware than the Royal Dining Room, and he’s had more medals round his neck than Michael Phelps. Along with MC Hammer he’s the only person to have ‘time’ named after him, and he could get so angry that teacups smashed at the thought of him. He’s played more mind-games than Derren Brown. If you take away Liverpool, he’s won more trophies than any other two clubs combined in their entire history (that one’s actually true). He could make a referee cry and dry a player’s hair with his voice. He’s spent more time serving bans than Chelsea managers have in charge and he’s played more games in Europe than all of Belgium’s teams. He’s added more to the England team than the last six England managers. He’s an awful celebrator, a winner, and in every sense of the word – A Legend.
Always leave them wanting more.